Ballplayer, sportscaster, manager, Marine Corps aviator—former New York Yankees second-baseman Jerry Coleman succeeded at all of these. Guess which one he prizes most?
By any standard, I've had a great career. I played second base for the New York Yankees, was manager of the San Diego Padres, and have been a sportscaster for almost five decades. But the most important part of my life was the five years I spent in uniform. I was a Marine Corps aviator in World War II and the Korean War.
I made my decision to join when I was 17. The Japanese had just attacked Pearl Harbor, and in my generation the question wasn't whether to enlist in the military; it was which branch you were going to join. Then two naval aviators visited my high school to recruit for the V-5 program, which turned out Navy pilots. I decided right then that I wanted those wings of gold.